Browsing Category

Teaching

How to Be a Better Teacher in 2018

reflection, Teaching
Hey, y’all!
For most, the New Year holiday brings a time of personal reflection. Many people set resolutions, or try to generally reset some part of their life once the clean slate of January 1 of the new year comes. In an upcoming post, I’ll be reflecting on my goals from 2017 and will commit to some goals for the coming year, but for this post I want to talk about How to Be a Better Teacher in 2018.

As I said in another post about reflection, it is extremely important to me to always try to continuously improve my effectiveness in the classroom and honestly, I don’t think I’ve grown much this year. In Year 6, I’ve settled in quite a bit and that makes me sort of uncomfortable. The day that I get complacent  is the day I am not putting forth my best self for kids. Reflecting honestly about my teaching practice is a key to being able to continuously get better, despite whatever is happening around me. 

When I reflect, it mainly boils down to how my teacher actions affected student actions. The following list is not exhaustive, but has questions that I have asked myself to help me re-focus over breaks. 

Classroom Goals

  • Are we on track to reach the classroom goals?
  • Of those we are on track to reach, why are we on track? What can I continue to do to build on that success?
  • Of those we aren’t on track to reach, why aren’t we on track?
  • Are my classroom goals big, measurable, and easily articulated to kids?
  • Have I done a good job of investing the kids in the big goal? What can I continue to do, or improve upon to improve investment with students?

Classroom Culture

  • Am I really getting to know all of my students so far this year?
  • If so, what do I need to ensure I continue to do to expand on this? If not, what do I need to do differently?
  • Does my attitude toward my work contribute to student learning or stifle it?
  • Are my relationships with students helping the students learn, or hindering me from effectively behavior managing?
  • Would I want to be in the class? Would I want my child to be in this class? If yes, why? If no, what should change?

Student Behavior

  • What teacher actions have led to student misbehavior this year?
  • What about my classroom layout/set-up has allowed for student misbehavior?
  • Have I been consistent with my classroom behavior management plan? If not, why not? What should be changed?
  • Do I need to teach the behavior expectations differently after break, or outline them more explicitly?
  • What is working and what isn’t work with my classroom management plan overall?
  • Did I follow through when giving consequences/communicating with parents? If not, why?
  • Am I consistent in rewarding/incentivizing positive student behavior?
  • Is what I have done this year to reward positive student behavior sustainable for the rest of the year?
  • What can I do to improve next year to encourage positive behavior/buy-in of class goals?
  • What can I do to improve re-directing and tracking of negative behavior?
  • Who can I speak with or go observe to get ideas regarding behavior management?


Collaboration & Team Function

  • In what areas can I improve in order to help the team?
  • Are/Have my actions prohibiting/prohibited my team from growing, working more efficiently, or trying new things?
  • What “works” on our team?
  • What can we do to become more consistent?
  • How can we support each other better in the next year?
  • What is at least one thing that we should try as a team next year?
  • Does our team exhibit to kids that we believe all of them can meet expectations and can succeed at a high level? If not, what must we change so that is the case?

Self-Care

Instruction/Teaching Practices

  • What lessons have “worked” for me?
  • For lessons that haven’t work, was it because of lack of preparation, they weren’t interesting to kids, they should be taught in a different order?
  • Do I give enough feedback to kids? If so, is my feedback meaningful?
  • Does my grade book reflect student learning and progress?
  • Do my assessments assess learning effectively?
  • Do I backwards plan effectively?
  • What can I do to better assist those who don’t “get it”?
  • What can I do to better assist those who work more quickly and need meaningful extension?
  • How do I know that my students are learning?

So, what do you think? What am I leaving out? I’d love to hear your own reflections and questions in the comments!

p.s. Want to start a teacher blog of your own, just like this one? Check out these latest posts you can use as resources:

Already a Teacher Blogger or Teachers Pay Teachers seller? Join the Teacher Blogger Seller Network on Facebook!

#StopTeacherGuilt and Be Better for Kids

Teacher Self Care, Teaching

I am so excited to be at the blog today to post as a part of the 12 Days of December blog hop being hosted by some AMAZING secondary ELA teachers. This year’s theme is “Comfort and Joy in the Secondary Classroom“. When I was notified of the theme I immediately knew what I wanted to post about…and it isn’t something that is just secondary ELA specific, so bear with me as I go off-script a little bit.

I want to talk about teacher guilt. 

We all have it.

You know the feeling. During our weeks, we feel as if we could’ve taught something better if only we had planned more or bought those cutesy things at Target that could’ve helped with the lesson. We feel guilty that another teacher in our building has it all together and maybe our students would be better off if they had that other person as a teacher instead of you. We feel guilty that our shit isn’t as together as we’d want it to be and that (God forbid!) our classroom libraries look like a tornado ran through them and sometimes our rooms look a mess when we go home for the day.

On Saturday and Sunday nights, when we should be hanging out with our family and re-charging for the week, we feel guilty that we didn’t do that one thing we thought we should do; we feel guilty that we didn’t laminate and cut those new word wall words, or that we didn’t have time to give that extra specific feedback on our students’ essays. We feel guilty we didn’t work all weekend to “catch up”, when we know the reality is that there is no catching up…there is always something to be doing.

We love our jobs but because of this feeling of dread we sort of don’t look forward to going in to the job that we love.

When high stakes state tests roll around at the end of the year we feel like we didn’t do enough, our kids aren’t ready and that another year has passed where we didn’t get 100% of our kids where we want them to be before moving to the next grade.

Know the feeling I’m talking about? I know you’re nodding your head.

I want to talk about teacher guilt as the subject for my “Comfort and Joy in the Secondary Classroom” post because first and foremost, the only way there will be real comfort and joy in your classroom no matter what you teach is if you, the teacher and leader in your classroom, are taken care of first. PeriodIn order to be better for kids, you must prioritize yourself, understand that you. are. enough. and you’re doing the best you can with what you have.

As holiday break is approaching, I urge you to reset and refocus if you’re feeling like teacher guilt has really gotten you down this year. I’ve REALLY felt it. But, with the help of some teacher friends, I have been able to shake off the feeling a bit, push away my workaholic tendencies and spend more time with family and friends (or just watching trash TV because I feel like it…without a computer in front of me!). I know that I have been better and more present for my students because of it.

Two of my favorite teacher bloggers (Shana and Jenna) and I started using the hashtag #STOPTeacherGuilt on Instagram in order to show a little support to teachers who have been feeling the same way we have and to really start a conversation about that feeling of guilt. With over 700+ posts using the hashtag by teachers who are feeling the exact same way, I have been blown away by the support that insta-teachers have shown each other around this topic. So, I invite you to post and use the hashtag, and explore the posts that have already been posted. You are not alone in how you feel and it. is. okay. to take a step back if you need to. Please, reclaim your time this December and as you start out your 2018, put yourself first. 

Want Want to receive work-life balance motivation, encouraging notes and strategies sent straight to your inbox? Join the #stopteacherguilt movement. I promise your inbox won’t be flooded and the content will be short, sweet and relevant. Sign up at the bottom of this post.

See below for the other amazing posts from secondary ELA teachers in the blog hop. Also, want to enter today’s giveaway ($100 to TPT!)? Enter here. 

 Loading InLinkz ...

Ed Tech Tip of the Week: PlayPosit

EdTech, Teaching
Check out PlayPosit and this week's EdTech Tip of the Week!

Hey, y’all! I’m back for the fourth installment of “EdTech Tip of the Week” and this week I’m featuring PlayPosit! You can find all of the other EdTech Tip of the Week posts here.

What It Is

PlayPosit is a website that allows you to add interactivity to streaming video content—yes, like YouTube! You can literally have a streaming video stop, and you can add questions to a sidebar for students to respond to 🙂

Cool Features

  • Engaging: You can add videos, interactive questions and other media into a “bulb” (which is what they call their lessons or activities). With a free account, you can add multiple choice questions, free response questions, and reflective pauses. With a paid account, you can add all of those plus polls, fill in the blanks, check all that apply questions, “skip segment” and “take to website”.
  • Easy: You can add videos from anywhere on the web, or find already made interactive videos that are banked on the site. The site also has a bank of videos (with and without questions) that you can choose from from popular sources, like Ted Ed, Disney, etc.
  • Integration: Playposit bulbs can be used with any learning management system you already use! All you have to do is share the bulbs to your system (Edmodo, Google Classroom, Schoology, Blackboard, etc.)
  • Monitor: Playposit has a “monitor” feature where you can view your students’ progress in regards to their videos. Teachers can add their classes, or import from sites like Google Classroom, and get a break-down of student performance question by question
  • Premium Features: The basic functionality of Playposit is free. If you’d like to upgrade to a premium account however, they offer: worksheet printout of your bulb, access to the full Playposit database (over 400k lessons), advanced cropping to skip irrelevant content, ability to export lesson grades for import into gradebooks, and different question types to embed into bulbs (like fill in the blanks, check all that apply, etc. as mentioned above)

How You Can Use It in Your Classroom

Playposit can be used in a variety of ways to engage students in your classroom:

  • PlayPosit can provide a “flipped” experience, if students are watching videos and completing some assignments before class
  • PlayPosit can provide a blended classroom experience
  • PlayPosit bulbs/assignments can be differentiated for students to review basic skills or for others to expand on their learning
  • Students can create Playposit bulbs to demonstrate their learning
  • Students can practice “close hearing” instead of watching videos passively

Because videos can be used from such a variety of sources like YouTube, LearnZillion, etc., this tool can be used in many ways across all content areas.

Resources

What did I miss? Have you used PlayPosit in your classroom before? I can’t wait to use it this year! What is your favorite EdTech tool to use in your classroom to aid student learning? Let me know in the comments, or by Tweeting me!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

EdTech Tip of the Week: Deck.Toys

EdTech, Teaching
Deck.Toys is an platform that adds interactivity for lessons! Read this week's EdTech Tip of the Week for more details!

 

You. Guys. I’m back this week for the latest EdTech Tip of the Week” featuring Deck.Toys and I am so excited about it! My friend Sarah (you should go follow her on Twitter, for real) heard about Deck.Toys from her Teacher of the Year friends and when I looked it up, I was blown away at how cool it is. I have not yet used this in my classroom, because I just heard about it, but I will DEFINITELY be using it this coming school year!

What It Is

Deck.Toys is a classroom engagement platform best described as a sort of digital “Breakout Games”! According to their website,  “the lesson can now be transformed into an immersive, engaging experience for every student in the classroom”. Their focus on making this happen is on:

  1. Simple lesson creation
  2. Engaging real-time interactivity
  3. Instantaneous tracking

Um, yes, that does say INSTANTANEOUS TRACKING! Time-saver 🙂

Cool Features

  • Game-Look: For students of all ages, the look of a “deck” is really engaging. When you create a lesson, you can create a rigid “path” that students must follow, by adding “locks” for them to have to break through by doing an activity or you can create a more choice-oriented deck where students can explore different activities (or you can make a combination of these!). You can also edit the deck background to make the deck look however you want! You  can add colors, shapes, custom pictures, icons, text, etc. Here are a few example decks  that are in the “Gallery” to demonstrate how different they can look:

What You Start With When You Begin Making a Deck

Example Deck: Mars Colonization

Example Deck: Mountain Top

  • Interactive Slides: For each “slide” that you create in a lesson, you can add interactivity. You can add a slide with questions, a signpost, or a study set. Within each “slide with questions”, you can add an image, embed a video, add Google Slides, PPT, PDF or a website. You also have “apps” you can add on each slide like a buzzer, randomizer, timer, or lock. The students can have the option of responding with text, a drawing, by answering a poll. etc.
  • Study Sets: These are exactly what they sound like…a set of terms, or concepts, that you set up to be studied! You can list a term, definition and picture to describe the term. The study sets can then be used multiple times and inserted into lessons. Here is an example from the Deck.Toys website:

  • Teacher Sync/ Free Mode: Teacher Sync mode means every student’s deck is synced to the teacher’s screen. Free mode means that student’s can explore the lessons at their own speed.During free mode, teachers can also monitor a student’s progress in real-time!Having both modes means that Deck.Toys would be appropriate to use during many different types of lessons/stages of a lesson.
  • Assessment with Class-Wide apps: At any time a teacher can run an “app” as a class activity. This allows the teacher to be able to formatively assess students in real-time to check for understanding/gauge progress on a topic. As students are finished with the assessment or question, they can continue on from where they were before the class activity was started.
  • Reports: This could be my favorite part…REPORTS! Deck.Toys allows teachers to get a summary of not only students’ progress on specific activities, but also specific answers submitted by students. This makes it much easier to track information in a single view for however the data may be needed (to form small group instruction, for a whole class mini-lesson, etc.).

How It Can Be Used In Your Class

Deck.Toys can be used in any class at many different stages of a lesson and/or unit. Since it is compatible with Google Slides, PPT, etc. and students can respond and participate in different ways, any class can use this platform whether is is ELA, music, or math!

Deck.Toys can be used:

  • To engage the entire class during a mini-lesson using a class-wide app and teacher sync
  • To engage a small group in a rotation/station setting
  • To remediate students/give extra practice with basic skills before they can move on to another activity
  • To provide extra enrichment activities and choice to students who finish early or master content more quickly than the whole group
  • To create competition/urgency/focus on a specific activity if used as a digital breakout game with timers and all (so fun!)

Resources

Have you heard of Deck.Toys or played around with it yet? Let me know in the comments, or Tweet me! Also, my friend Shana over at Hello, Teacher Lady, has started a Facebook group for edtech enthusiasts called The Ed Tech Collective. Interested in joining? Click here!

Have you read about Nearpod and Padlet yet?

Sign up below and never miss a post!

EdTech Tip of the Week: Padlet

EdTech, Teaching
Read this week's Ed Tech Tip of the Week on how Padlet can be used in your classroom!

Hey, y’all! I’m back at the blog to bring you the next EdTech Tip of the Week! This week I’m featuring Padlet. If you missed last week’s post about Nearpod, you can read it here.

What It Is

Padlet is a free app (iOS, Android and Kindle) and web-based program that is essentially an online bulletin board! Teachers and students can create, collaborate and curate content to their heart’s desire and it will be displayed in a simple, easy to read way without so many options that make useability confusing.  Padlet is easy to use, intuitive, flexible (any type of file can be added!), and can be private and secure (which is sometimes a concern when students are using technology).

Cool Features

Padlet has a lot of great features that make this tool easy to use in the classroom no matter if you’re an elementary, middle or high school teacher. You, or students, can add posts with a click, by copying-pasting info, or dragging and dropping the content into the Padlet.

You also share Padlets very easily, just by sharing a link, for collaborative projects. Those who has the link, will also not be required to go through a sign-up process, making collaborating even more seemless.

Something else that is handy, that actually came to mind as my first question when I saw that Padlet was free, is that there can be unlimited contributors to one Padlet. No need to sign up for a premium account, just to have your class of 30 work on something together.

Also, perhaps my favorite of all, is that Padlet supports just about any type of file. I love this because all students think differently! Maybe a student wants to contribute a YouTube video to the Padlet while another wants to add a web link and another a Powerpoint to demonstrate their understanding or showcase their thoughts. No matter the file type, each will have a small preview added when it is included on the Padlet.

Finally, I love how Padlet is so intuitive, as I mentioned above. Whether you aren’t really sure what you want the Padlet to look like when you get started, or you’re just design-challenged, when you create a new Padlet, you are taken to a screen where you can pick how you want to start. Maybe you want to have a stream of content, similar to a blog or list. Maybe you want rows of boxes for your particular project (grid), or you want it to take a more free form shape (canvas), by selecting what you’re trying to create, Padlet gets you set up and ready to go with a click of a button.

Want to read about more features straight from Padlet? Check out their website here.

How It Can Be Used In Your Class

Padlet can be used in so.many.ways. across all subject areas that it is hard to even make a list! Here is a list to get started:

  • Book Reviews: create a class Padlet where students add their book reviews for others to read! Or, students could create their own Padlet that has their review and other documents/multimedia added to review or display their understanding of the plot’s events and complicated nature of their book’s protagonist…the possibilities for this are endless!
  • Timeline: want to display information in a timeline to aide your history lesson? Or to show how events in a plot transpired? Use Padlet’s canvas feature to add information wherever you’d like on a page, or the stream feature for an easy top to bottom display of resources.
  • Resource Hub: Working on something in your classroom where you want to curate resources for students to view/use? This could be for station work, or a guided activity. Use Padlet’s shelf or grid design to dump the resources all in one place for easy perusing.
  • KWL Chart: Want students to collaborate on a K-W-L chart? Divide the background up into 3 columns and have students add their thinking onto the canvas design! Awesome example of this here.
  • Presentation/Portfolio: want to have examples of student work all in one place? Create a class Padlet for exemplars of particular assignments or of snapshots of particular student’s work. Did the student create a video, powerpoint, podcast or other multimedia product? Even better!
  • Thank You Board: create a Thank You board that students can contribute to when you have a particular staff person go out of the way for your class, or if you have an awesome class visitor or parent volunteer. No need for the recipient to keep the handwritten cards, they can have their Thank You’s all connected to one link!
  • Questions Board: Want to keep a digital “parking lot” of questions? Students can add questions 24/7 to the Padlet that the class can view and answer, or that you can see to address misunderstandings.
  • Playlist/Flashcards: want to create a video playlist of your students’ favorite songs to play during work time? Want to create a video resource hub within Padlet so students don’t have to click back out to YouTube? Maybe you want to have flashcards be able to roll across the screen as videos would? Create a playlist of resources!

Want to see different examples? View the Padlet Gallery! Click into one and see how it’s set up.

Resources

What is your favorite EdTech program/app to use in your classroom? Have you used Padlet before? What is your favorite part about it? Let me know in the comments, or Tweet me! Also, my friend Shana has started a Facebook group for ed tech enthusiasts…want to join? Click here! 

Want more EdTech tips? Subscribe for updates when EdTech Tip of the Week posts roll out! 

EdTech Tip of the Week: Nearpod

EdTech, Teaching

Hey, y’all!

I hope by now most of you are on summer break and are enjoying a little time away from the normal duties of teaching (let’s be real, most of you are still working and are at conferences, cleaning up your classrooms, etc. so you’re not on “break” quite yet)! I wanted to write today to start a new series this summer where I will bring you an “EdTech Tip of the Week”. In these posts I will feature an app/web program or other EdTech tip to spread the word about it’s awesomeness and how it can potentially be used in your classroom! These posts are in no way sponsored, I just enjoy trying out new things and sharing helpful tips along the way!

This week, for the first “EdTech Tip of the Week”,  I’m featuring Nearpod!

What It Is

Nearpod is an app and web-based program that can help you “bring the classroom to life with interactive mobile presentations that teachers create and customize themselves”, per their website. Teachers can add in web content* and “activities” like open-ended questions, polls, quizzes, drawing, collaborate (like a digital bulletin board), fill in the blanks* and memory tests* in between traditional slides! (*for premium accounts)

Cool Features

  • Student Paced vs Live Mode: One cool thing about Nearpod is that you can either have it be in “Student Paced” or “Live Mode”. Student Paced mode is exactly what it sounds like…you can send the presentation to students and they can work their way through it at their own pace. When you’re in “Live Mode” whatever is on your screen, is on the students’ screen. So, if you’re on slide 5, the students will also be on slide 5 and they can’t go back or forward until you change the slide.
  • Notification When Student Logs Off: Something I hear a lot of from teachers about why they don’t embrace technology in the classroom, is that they feel like it’s hard to monitor. Well, Nearpod has a feature to show you if a student “logs off” during a “Live Mode” presentation. The teacher’s screen will show how many students are logged in, and the number will turn red if/when a student drops off the presentation to, say, go look at images of the newest Jordans to come out.
  • Assessment Reports:  One of my favorite things about Nearpod are the assessment reports that it produces! At the end of your presentation, you can export a PDF report to be emailed directly to you. The report tells you every students’ answer to each question that you asked, whether it be multiple choice, short answer, or a drawing! You can then review the reports to check for understanding for specific students. I show the students the report that I receive, so they are aware that they are accountable to be giving their best answers and thoughtful responses.
  • Assessibility/Integration: When making a Nearpod, you can either add content directly into the program and create from scratch, or you can upload already existing files! This was super exciting for me, as I was already some Google Slides made for a unit I was going to do when I first began tinkering with Nearpod. I just uploaded the slides, and then added the interactivity where I saw fit.
  • Lesson Market: Nearpod offers a “Market” that has free and paid Common Core aligned lessons that are ready to launch! The market has lessons for all grades and all subjects. They offer

How It Can Be Used in Your Class

Nearpod has features that can be used across all subject levels (yes, even math!) which allows it to be a great tool, no matter what subject or grade you teach! I suggest that no matter your topic, start small in using Nearpod, like as exit tickets, or warm-ups, and you will find that your students will LOVE it and you will discover even more ways to utilize this multi-faceted platform in your class.

I started to make a list of ways to use Nearpod in the different subjects, and found that Nearpod had already done that on their blog! I’ve linked them below:

Resources

Want to get started with Nearpod? I’ve linked the videos that I watched when I got started with Nearpod in my classroom! Nearpod’s YouTube channel has 23 instructional videos and countless others featuring it’s awesomeness!

What is your favorite EdTech program/app to use in your classroom? Have you used Nearpod before? What is your favorite part about it? Let me know in the comments! Also, my friend Shana over at Hello, Teacher Lady has started a Facebook group for ed tech enthusiasts…want to join? Click here!

Until next week,

 

How to Participate in a Twitter Chat: For Teachers

Blogging, Featured, Teaching, Twitter

Hey, y’all!

If you’ve been following me on social media or this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably realized that I love to try new things with technology in and out of the classroom in order to impact my teaching practice.

Long before I had a blog, I was very active on Twitter. However, I had never participated in a Twitter chat before I became a teacher! Twitter chats have been an amazing way for me to connect with other educators around the world around specific topics, and I seem to always leave each one feeling more energized than before I started. Because of this, I wanted to bring you: How to Participate in a Twitter Chat: For Teachers!

Twitter chats take place every day of the week around a LOT of different topics in education. Grade specific, subject specific, education hot topic specific…you name it, there is probably a Twitter chat for it.  Don’t have a chat to join but want to find one? Check out this longggg list of Twitter chats I found. 

 
1. Get a Twitter Account. (or Sign In if you already have one)

Tip: If you’re just making an account, something that is similar to your name or position will most likely foster more engagement overall, as you will be easier to search.

If you’re at www.twitter.com. in the top right corner you will see the options to Log In to Twitter or Sign Up for an account.

2. Find Your Chat.  
Type the chat’s hashtag into your search box in the top right corner. For the sake of this example, I typed #JCPSchat, which is a chat my district has.

3. Click “Latest”.
Clicking “latest” will have the chats load in the order that people send them so you can just scroll and follow along during the chat. If you check the hashtag when the chat is not happening, you will still see the Tweets appear in order as people use the hashtag.

4. Take note of who is moderating the chat, so you’re aware who will be posting the questions (especially if it is a large chat. Tweets start moving fast!)

5. Questions/Answering
For Twitter chats, questions follow a Q1, Q2, Q3 format. When you answer questions, you then should use an A1, A2, A3 format. This allows participants to see what you’re referencing and will lead to better conversation.

For example, so you can see the format, this was question 2 in a chat I participated in:

The question has “Q2” to identify it as the 2nd question and answers to that question had “A2” at the beginning to indicate the answer corresponded with question 2.

6. Use the chat’s hashtag when tweeting.
Use the chat’s hashtag in every tweet so it shows up in the chat’s thread. Without it, people in the chat won’t see what you’re posting!

7. Start responding + engaging with others! 
It is okay, obviously, for you to be a “lurker” the first couple of times, but you will get a LOT more out of the chat by engaging and connecting with others!

It is THAT easy! If you haven’t participated in a Twitter chat yet, I highly encourage you to do so! It is like a bite-sized, pocket PD that you can access when you have time! Also, find me on Twitter, I would LOVE to connect!

Happy Tweeting,

Dear Teacher, You are Enough.

Featured, State Testing, Teaching, test prep
Dear Teachers,

 

It’s that time again. You know… the time where you have to either take down your entire classroom or cover every resource with butcher paper, even though there is a month of school left. The time where desks go in rows, countdowns begin, art projects are taken down, flexible seating options are put away and you make sure you have a place to double lock materials and store extra snacks. It’s “I can’t help you, just do your best” time. It’s state testing season.

You’ve prepared for this the entire year. Even if you don’t focus much on “the test” in your classroom and in your school, you’ve still been preparing for it. You know the standards that will be tested and the kids know (dread) that this happens each year. However, no matter how great of a year you and your students have had or how awesome your classroom culture is this time of year always seems incredibly stressful.

I know you’ve had the talk with you students about how one test doesn’t measure their worth. One test doesn’t tell them if they’re a good brother, sister, friend. One test doesn’t show anyone that they’re a really good artist, that they stand up to bullies, or are extremely compassionate. One test does not define their future success in life and a label of “Novice” or “Apprentice” may show us that they aren’t there “yet” in terms of learning some standards, but it doesn’t mean they are less than. I know you’ve told them that you’re proud of them always, no matter what.  But regardless of how you and your students view testing, it happens, and we must all put forth our best effort to try to be as successful as possible.

I know students are feeling anxious. No one wants to perform poorly, whether it be for themselves, their parents or you.

And I know that you, too, are feeling anxious. You’re worried about how testing will affect the self-confidence of your students. You’re worried that the pride they’ve felt for knowing they’ve grown academically will go away when they realize the test is still hard compared to their ability and reading level. You’re worried that you didn’t do right by them because you see a poem on the test and you should’ve gone over poetry a little bit more to help them be successful.  You worry that really you should’ve assigned more reading homework or should’ve used even more lunch periods to hold math tutorials.  You worry that you didn’t do something to set them up for success.

My message for you, Teach, is that you’ve been enough. We preach this to our students all year, but you must remember it too. The consistency you’ve provided your students all year, the hugs, the encouragement are all worth much, much more than a score on a test. You’ve held high standards for students despite many of them facing extreme adversity in their lives and have helped them grow from a “Below Basic” reader to damn near “Proficient”. You’ve shown them how to have character and do the right thing even when no one is watching. You’ve modeled for them kindness, empathy, and honesty.

You’ve shown them that they are believed in, loved, trusted, listened to. You’ve shown them that they are important and that their voice matters. And while whatever will be, will be, when it comes to how they perform on their tests, you have done enough and you are enough.

p.s. Want to start a teacher blog like this one? My friend, Suzi, wrote an ebook that can help you get started and grow your blog!

My Experience at an ECET2 Conference

ECET, Middle School, Teaching

Hey, y’all!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I’m so excited about this that I had to make time to share!

Last weekend I attended an ECET2 conference, specifically #ECET2LOU (Louisville). ECET stands for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers and was born “out of a desire to provide a forum for exceptional teachers to learn from one another and to celebrate the teaching profession”.  It is connected with Teacher2Teacher on a national level and was organized in Louisville by JCPSForward, a group that is leading a “strategic, intentional effort to identify and connect the educators in JCPS that are deeply impacting learning and teaching”. 

I left the conference feeling inspired, energized and fired up to return to my classroom. Being around other teachers who are life long learners that want to continuously increase their effectiveness and share was a breath of fresh air during this trying time in the year. Leaving the conference, it was so apparent how many amazing, mission-oriented educators are in my district and it was awesome meeting them face-to-face.

If you have the opportunity to attend one in your area, or even go to the national ECET2 (which I’d like to do), I’m highly recommending you take advantage of it and GO!

The Format/Style
Going to the conference, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What would the vibe be like? Would it be “sit and get” and a waste of a Saturday? Since it is FOR TEACHERS BY TEACHERS (#praise!), it wasn’t “sit and get” at all! Friday night was the “optional” night and it opened with a keynote speaker (@drvickip) who was phenomenal. She spoke about how #ItsTime teachers are given voice, space and time to do their best work.

After the keynote, there were breakout sessions. Attendees could go watch a screening of “Most Likely to Succeed” or participate in BreakoutEDU games before heading to a more social gathering to end the night.

Bright and early the next morning, the conference started off with breakfast where attendees could register for the day as well as mingle with others. The rest of the day was divided up by breakout sessions (3), a “working lunch” with a speaker, and colleague circles. One of the best parts about the day was the variety of sessions you could choose from. Just how we, educators, talk about giving kids choice in the classroom and with assignments, it is the same with adults! I was able to make meaning of things and takeaway much more because I was in sessions that I chose that were relevant to me.

#WhyITeach: To Close Achievement Gaps

My Takeaways
The first session I chose was the ESSA/Ed Policy session. I was originally a political science major and have a passion for politics, especially ed policy. Because of the state of Kentucky politics at the moment, many education bills are being discussed this session. I wanted to hear what the presenters had to say, and learn from presenters who were committed to sharing information about the bills, without partisan spin and editorializing. My takeaway from this session was that a lot more educators are plugged in to these topics than I originally thought. Some awesome discussion came out of the session as we broke to talk about specific bills that are on the docket in the Kentucky legislature now. The conversations pushed my thinking, as well as confirmed some of my viewpoints. I also learned a lot more about the history of testing in Kentucky, as I was in elementary school with the CATS test started and wasn’t privy to anything that happened outside of the playground. 🙂

The second session I chose was the Strengths and Girls of Color session presented by  Dr. Mathies, Dr. Carmichael and Dr. Young. This was the most powerful session. Not only were the presenters engaging, their statistics about discipline and suspension rates for girls of color were extremely relevant as they spoke about national trends, as well as within JCPS. Their session led participants to recognize and name some of their own privilege and bias in order to put some of their presentation into better context. They left the presenters with actionable steps and resources they can take back to their campuses. My takeaway from this session is that I’m not doing enough in order to push the thinking of my colleagues in terms of how we interact with girls of color at my campus. It is great if I am aware of myself, adjust my practice in order to better support students of color, but the work must not stop there.


My Next Steps
After reflecting this week on my takeaways and what “stuck with me”, I wanted to create some next steps for myself because the exciting work and dialogue doesn’t need to stop just because the conference is over!

Because of my passion for education policy, I’m going to be more plugged in in terms of monitoring education bills in my state and I’m going to provide feedback on bills through the KYEdPolicy website. The site allows visitors to read the bills as they are (with no partisan spin), leave feedback on a simple Google form, that then gets shared with electeds and other stakeholders. Conversations are going to be had about the legislation anyway, and I believe it is important to have as much feedback from educators as possible in the conversation.

Additionally, my next step is to to get more plugged in with the #ColorBraveJCPS work and to take steps to spread the word and challenge thinking on my campus in terms of how we support girls of color. I’m going to do this by (1) seeing if we can do the color arc activity with staff at my campus, as well as (2) have conversations about some of our school level data. I’m going to continue to dialogue with the presenters of the session (Dr. Mathies, Dr. Carmichael and Dr. Young) as well.

Have you attended an ECET2 conference? What was your experience like?

Until next time,

The Top 20 Instagram Hashtags to Follow: Teacher Edition

Blogging, Featured, Instagram, Social Media, Teaching
You need to be on Instagram for teaching! Here are 20 hashtags you can follow on Instagram to connect with teachers!
 Hey, y’all!

When I started this blog about a year ago, I was looking for an outlet to share teaching ideas that can make teachers’ lives easier. At the time, I felt proficient in terms of social media. I was already obsessed with Twitter, had a personal Instagram, and was on Pinterest daily for inspiration and to find resources. It was only when I started this blog, however, that I came to realize that Instagram (yes, Instagram!) is basically a wonderland of teaching inspiration! I had never searched Instagram for teaching related stuff before, but as I’ve explored more and more, I’ve now become hooked!

As I said, I hadn’t previously viewed Instagram as a go-to place for teaching inspiration, but was oh-so-wrong. I wanted to write a post to share some of the popular hashtags I check out, and inspiring teachers I follow.

Hashtags for Middle School Teachers

#teachersfollowteachers
#teachersofinstagram
#iteachtoo
#teacherproblems
#teachersofIG
#teachersofTPT 
#teachertribe
#iteachmiddleschool
#iteachela
#iteachmath
#iteach678
#decoratewithladybug
#iteach6th 
#iteachsixth
#iteach7th
#iteachseventh
#iteach8th
#iteacheighth
#teacherblogger (also, #teacherbloggers)
#targetteacher

Other Popular Hashtags

#iteachk
#iteachfirst
#iteach1st
#iteachsecond
#iteach2nd
#iteachthird
#iteach3rd
#iteachfourth
#iteach4th
#iteachfifth
#iteach5th

People to Follow 

I chose the people to follow based off who is popular to follow, who posts consistently, and who posts inspiring content. 
 
Middle/High School (6th-12th)

 

Elementary Teachers (K-5th)

Do you have any favorite hashtags you follow? Do you know of any inspiring educators on Instagram? I’d love to hear them–share them in the comments!

Loading...